A More Perfect Union

Astrology Beyond-the-Horoscope Forecast for September 2020

Donna Woodwell
11 min readSep 2, 2020


With election season heating up in the United States, we’d do well to recall the preamble to the Constitution:

“We the people, in order to form a more perfect union…”

It doesn’t say a perfect union, it says a more perfect union.

Perhaps that’s, in part, because the framers of the Constitution understood there can never be an agreement on what “perfect” would look like.

If the various states had insisted on their own version of “perfect” — if they swore it’s “my way or the highway” — they’d never have established a Union at all.

Plus it’s that kind of “all or nothing” thinking that leads this month’s Virgo energy spiraling down into ineffective anxiety and panic.

Fortunately, by embracing imperfection we find the key to our self-imposed prison.

Life’s richness comes from its complexity and nuance. And those are things that wouldn’t exist in a black and white, either/or world.

Embrace Imperfection

Now “Embrace imperfection” may seem like odd wisdom for Virgo season, which runs from Aug. 21 to Sept. 22.

After all, Virgo’s got a rep for wanting everything to be “perfect.” So much so, that Virgo energy can drive itself — and those nearby — a little batty with the constant tweaking and shifting to get everything just right.

(Full disclosure, I’ve got the Sun and a collection of other planets in Virgo, so I’m speaking as a native.)

And so, when I found a wall plaque emblazoned with “Embrace Imperfection,” I knew I needed it for my office.

I even hung the sign crooked, to make a point.

(Plus, it’s amusing to watch the occasional client attempt to straighten it. And then read it. And laugh at themselves.)

I like having the little sign where I can see it, because it reminds me every day that there’s no such thing as perfect. There’s only striving toward that elusive goal.

The word perfect comes from a Latin root that means “complete” or “whole.” But the wholeness Virgo seeks can’t be fulfilled on the material plane alone.

You see, in astrology speak, Virgo’s ruling planet is Mercury. That means the sign takes on the flair of Mercury’s dwelling place.

Now, once upon a time, Mercury was known as the messenger of the Gods. In his role, he was given free rein to travel from the Most High to the deepest Abyss, and all places in between.

And, because Mercury’s inner sight still remembers what divine wholeness feels like, when he’s knocking about on the material plane in Earthy Virgo, he’s always trying his best to make the physical world more divine-like.

Unfortunately for Mercury, that’s like trying to add extra dimensions to three-dimensional objects. Easy? Not.

So, to save sanity, relationships and therapy bills, Virgo energy is learning that it’s the process of striving to be better that matters most. There is no perfect ending.

And that’s especially important to remember this September, as tempers flare and patience wears thin.

Mars is Bright Tonight

Feisty Mars is turning it up another notch as his biennial retrograde begins. We’ll all feel the heat.

A little bit of astronomy for the uninitiated. Planets appear retrograde when they are what’s called perigee, a fancy term for when they are making their closest approach to Earth.

For planets that are further away from the Sun than Earth — like Mars — that means they also appear larger and brighter than usual in our night skies.

But you don’t have to take my word for it; it’s a dance you can watch for yourself.

From our earthly vantage point, it looks like the red planet’s been applying the brakes all through August, slowing to a crawl by early September.

And now, Mars is already bright enough to be visible even through light- polluted skies. (I know that for sure. The mornings when my dog wakes me up at 4:30 am for a walk, I can see Mars quite clearly, shining brightly overhead.)

And, though his retrograde period officially begins on Sept. 9, he won’t reach his maximum apparent brightness until a few weeks later on Sept. 24. By then, he’ll be the second brightest star-like object in the sky after Venus, outshining even Jupiter.

The planet’s going to be really hard to miss as we move further into the fall season. He rises in the East a little earlier each night, and will soon dominate the evening skies as a brilliant reddish point of light.

In such moments, I can’t help but hear echoes of Harry Potter’s skywatching friend, Ronan the centaur.

Maybe you remember from the Sorcerer’s Stone, when Harry and his friends are serving their detention with Hagrid in the forbidden forest. The group meets the centaur Ronan. As they talk, Ronan looks to the skies and remarks, ominously: “Mars is bright tonight.”

Given that Mars was associated with an earlier Greek god of strife, war and violence, we can assume Ronan was foreshadowing Harry’s role in the upcoming battle between Dumbledore’s Army and He Who Must Not Be Named.

Given what’s happening across the United States, it’s hard not to make comparisons with Death Eaters on the loose.

Nevertheless, reality is always more complicated than fiction.

That’s because people tend to see themselves as the hero of their own story, rarely the villain.

In other words, no one thinks they themselves are the Death Eaters. That role always goes to someone else.

A Rock and a Hard Place

Alas, Mars retrograde is tough enough on its own, but this one’s happening while the red planet is squaring off with another heavy hitter: Saturn.

For traditional astrologers, there was no aspect tougher than the square between Mars and Saturn. And that’s exactly what we’ve got on our cosmic plate for the next few months, as the two planets square off three times.

The first time was on Aug. 24. They’ll meet again on Sept. 29, and a final time around Jan. 13, 2021. And we will feel the squeeze the entire time they are moving in and out of their alignment.

(By the way, Sept. 29 is the first U.S. presidential debate. Should be a night to watch.)

So, let’s take a moment to get to know our players a little better.

In traditional astrology, Saturn and Mars were called the greater and lesser “malefics” — that just means the malicious ones.

They got the moniker because the planets represent principles we humans often find unpleasant and challenging to work with, not because we don’t need them to thrive.

Saturn counsels self-discipline, solitude, patience and maturity. Of course, these are great virtues to cultivate if you want to be successful in life. But, I’m sure you can think of someone who’ll try whatever they can to get out of growing up.

Unfortunately, the dark side of Saturn is extreme fear of the Other, fear that that leads to one’s self-undoing.

That’s actually the founding myth of the Greek version of Saturn: he was so afraid of his children defeating him, that he ate them. Which, of course, inspired the kids to rise up against him. So, the question is, would they have risen against him if he hadn’t been eating them in the first place?

Now for Mars… Mars craves independence, self-determination and opportunities to prove himself. Again, his courage can be a great virtue to cultivate; he’s a reflection of the strength it takes to pick ourselves up and keep going.

Mars also loves competition and battle. For a sophisticated Mars, it’s because competition inspires him to better himself. For the more thuggish variety, it’s because he loves to win, at any cost…

And, that includes getting sidetracked in his own self-created struggles with invented enemies, spiraling into ineffective rage.

Well, I’m sure you can imagine lots of ways these two could get into trouble together. And, unfortunately, when we’re talking about collective behavior, the meeting of these planets tends to correspond to moments when we see the worst of ourselves on display. (Especially when leadership is lacking to model a positive alternative.)

Everyone goes into the battle feeling their cause is righteous, and no one gives up once the fighting begins. It creates an ever-escalating cycle of violence.

But, there’s a little silver lining. As individuals, we can apply the power of our conscious awareness and steer a course between the rock and the hard place.

Saturn doesn’t have to give into fear, nor Mars to violence.

The trap you especially don’t want to fall into is feeling sorry for yourself, or playing the righteous victim. Neither Saturn nor Mars has any patience for such things. (Plus, both strategies will leave you stressed out and immune-compromised. and you don’t want that, do you?)

Your best approach? Be a hero. A real one.

Love & Justice

What’s a hero? A classic definition is this: Heroes are willing to take a risk for the sake of others, expecting nothing in return.

To do that, you’ll need to tap into the courage and strength of Mars and the determination of Saturn. Yes, it may feel like you are fighting an uphill battle. No, you may not see your progress until you have a chance to look back some months from now.

Still, it’s an opportunity to see what you are made of. So roll up your sleeves and get to work. Both planets will applaud your effort.

So, now for the really hard question. And the elephant in the room.

How do you know if you are playing the hero — or the villain?

(In other words, are you in Dumbledore’s Army, or are you a Death Eater?)

One of the amazing things about astrology is, when the planets pose a question, they also suggest answers to the question — or at least a way to think about it.

So, let’s take a look at another thing happening in the sky the the day the Sun entered Virgo. The Moon was hanging out in the Zodiac sign Libra.

Libra is also known as the sign of the Scales — you know, the kind in the hand of statues of the Goddess of Justice. She uses them to weigh the evidence before her in order to find a just and balanced solution.

Listening to all sides, weighing the pros and cons, seems like a lost art in today’s hyper-partisan atmosphere. But it’s required work for Justice to be done in the world.

You can’t just dismiss those who don’t agree with you, calling them stupid and brainwashed.

And you may not like to think about it, but we’re all “brainwashed” by our own circumstances and experiences. Every single person.

In other words, we all tend to see what we expect to see, and what we want to see, not what actually is. It takes time, bravery and humility to dig deeper to really find the truth of situations.

And then, if you manage to do that, how do you know what the right choice is?

Here’s a clue: Libra’s highest law is Love, as befits its ruling planet Venus, goddess of harmony and beauty. It’s a safe bet that if your actions are rooted in Love, and not fear, they are tilting toward the good guys.

Fortunately for us, the planet Venus is also in the conversation this month, opposing Saturn on Sept. 2, and squaring Mars on Sept. 4. So, she’s doing what she can to keep the struggle between Mars and Saturn from coming to blows.

Still, it’s not an easy road. Mars and Saturn are just itching for a battle.

And though Venus can be the calm voice encouraging compromise, tolerance, and patience, she hates conflict, and would prefer everyone just get along.

But if she’s willing to stand up and speak out, she may help the peacemakers to diffuse tensions, both personally and collectively.

Perchance to Dream

Finally, there’s one other pressure-release value (or an escape hatch) arriving in the middle of September.

In the weeks after the dreamy Pisces Full Moon on Sept. 2, we’ll experience a Neptune Opposition, as well as Jupiter stationing Direct.

Okay, yes, I know, that’s a lot of astro-babble in one sentence. So, what’s all that about?

Well, a Neptune opposition is astronomy’s name for the pivotal moment when the Earth sails in between the Sun and Neptune. It’s also the time when the Earth is closest to Neptune each year.

It brings Neptune’s need to become one with all things to the fore. And if that’s not available, Neptune will go and seek a feel-good self-delusion just to keep from experiencing the pain from the harsh light of day.

Jupiter’s ending his four-month retrograde within hours of the Neptune opposition. It’s as if Jupiter, the planet of optimism, integrity and revelations, has been on vacation, but is now stumbling back into the office to get back to work.

Jupiter’s been feeling a little bummed out from his time in Capricorn, but he’s ready to take on the “Power’s That Be” (represented by Pluto in Capricorn), one last time before he leaves for the fresher waters of Aquarius in late December.

And there’s the rub, says Hamlet. Dreams are funny things. They can bring hope, or more anxiety and delusion. After all, it was illusions that made Saturn eat his own children.

So, here’s your challenge: Will you escape into your fantasies, like a cosmic dose of opium? Will you allow your fantasies to terrify you to the point of checking out?

Or will you allow your dreams, however faltering, serve as the fuel to keep you moving forward on your heroic quest, no matter what the journey brings along the way?

What’s next?

Astrologically speaking, the coming months won’t get any easier. Global stress, anger and anxiety are likely to ratchet even higher than they are now.

Things don’t really start to shift until late December. Let’s round that to 100 days from now.

Mars and Saturn are at their best when working together to accomplish something tangible. In other words, they prefer to be active while waiting.

So, why not make a “100-day Plan” for yourself? There’s a lot you can change in 100 days to improve your life, and even the world.

Need some ideas? LifeHack has got a few to get your creative juices flowing.



Donna Woodwell

Magician, Astrologer, Shaman: Writer. Headmistress at the School of Magic & Mastery.